So why *did* the elk cross the road?

Apparently to stick his tongue out at me:

So why *did* the elk cross the road?

Or, maybe he’s just a big Miley Cyrus fan?  At any rate, let this image serve as a reminder to always keep your camera in your lap when venturing into an area with active wildlife.  We took a family trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park (in northern Colorado) this past weekend, and not far inside the park’s gate, we spotted this stunning bull elk grazing just off the far side of the road.

By the time I’d pulled over and retrieved my camera from the car’s back seat, our visitor was up on the road, crossing over to our side.  I only had time to fire off a couple of hasty shots (through the closed driver’s side window) before he was behind our car entirely.  Thank heaven for auto-focus.

The elk’s expression is, of course, hardly majestic.  But you know how bad they are about following direction…

Hosting a photowalk — my experiences

About two weeks back, I hosted a local photowalk — as part of the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk for 2012.  I’d never done it before, so just wanted to pass along a few of my experiences (bottom line: I dramatically overthought things going into it, but everybody had a good time).

The basic idea is to just spend a couple of hours as a group, walking (2 miles or less) through some photogenic sights.  As is my usual tendency, I did all sorts of research in advance (even though I’ve lived in this town for 22+ years now), and collected a pile of trivia about various places along our route.

A veiled beauty

In retrospect, this was largely a waste of time, since walking 24 people along sidewalks means only a handful will be in earshot at any time — and even then, leading photographers is a whole lot like herding cats.  Within a few blocks, your group will be spread over a large swath of terrain.

So my main bit of advise is to not overdo your research — pick a route with good sights and concentrate on getting your group through it safely (we had traffic to contend with).

Feeling a bit hung up

One thing I did right was to make a detailed map, and give everybody a print-out of it at the start of the walk.  This way, those that aren’t familiar with the area you’re walking in will be able to get back to the group if they get… distracted.

Hanging on for dinner

What I wasn’t expecting to be so challenging is that in the Kelby system, the leader of a local photowalk chooses the “best” image that his / her walkers took on the walk.  I’ve never played judge before, so had to learn how to deal with the apples-and-oranges nature of this task.  There’s a really good street photograph, and a really good nature photograph, and a couple of excellent environmental / detail shots — which one is “best?”  You’ll have to go to the photowalk page to see what I mean.

Going out blazing

In any event, the weather cooperated, the walkers all seemed to enjoy the tour, and I know I enjoyed showing them around my home turf — so definitely, I’d recommend this to anybody!  And as you can see, I had fun playing with my (still-)new 60mm lens.

The watcher

I spotted this critter on a photowalk through downtown Victoria, Canada:

The watcher

It’s hard to say what thoughts are going through his (her?) little reptilian head, but pride of “ownership” is likely one of them!


Another shot of Mt. Rainier — this one from the southeast:


It was so hazy on this particular day that I had to use 5 images and heavy use of HDR in order to get any separation between the sky and mountain. I’m fairly happy with the results — at least it doesn’t seem as unnatural as HDR images can sometimes turn out.

Time for a quick snack…

There are times in life when you have to remember to stop and smell the roses. Or in this case, to pay attention to what your kid’s fixated on.

We were at the foot of Mount Rushmore, being fully impressed by the sculpture, when our little one started chatting away about a squirrel eating “a nut.” So after I broke free of my granite-inspired haze, I swapped to a long lens on my camera and zoomed in on the scene:

Time for a quick snack

Turns out it was a chipmunk, and it was eating a grasshopper. A nut would be tastier for us (my girl got disgusted when I told her what the main course really was), but the little guy seemed to be quite pleased with his insect meal…

Life among the ruins

Seen among the Maya ruins of Dzibanché in Quintana Roo, México:

Life among the ruins

It was more than a bit odd to run across this flower in the depths of the Yucatan peninsula’s dry season this summer — so when I spotted it, I just had to grab this shot. Bright colors against muted tones, life among long-vacant ruins. Can’t beat the contrasts!

Group shot

On a trip to the Westminster Butterfly Pavilion a few weeks back, we saw this interesting crowd on a cluster of branches:

Group shot

I’m not sure why it was such prime real estate for the little critters, but they were all putting in a good effort to chase their neighbors off the twigs. At any one time, at most 4 butterflies were on the branches while 3 or 4 were hovering nearby, trying to take their places.